Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Butterfly in September

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
                                                         --Rabindranath Tagore

As with many people,
I appreciate the sight of colorful butterflies winging their way 
from flower to flower.
But I have never given them much thought otherwise.
I assumed they arrived in the spring, hung around through summer,
and then ...
I really didn't think about what they did in autumn or winter.

But last weekend I returned to the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail 
in Chesapeake, Virginia for a late summer hike;
and I was surprised to see
multitudes of butterflies flitting, flying, and gliding
from shrub to shrub and flower to flower.
In September, the butterflies are more colorful than the flowers along the Trail.

I think this one may be a northern crescent butterfly:

The butterflies continually raised and lowered their wings. 
I don't know if this happened while they were drawing nectar,
or if it was while they were simply at rest.
It would be interesting to find out why they do that.

When their wings were up, they were almost invisible:

A number of tiger swallowtails enjoyed this shrub:

And a  black and yellow swallowtail really stood out from the others:

 The one butterfly I did not see was a monarch butterfly.
When I was on the Eastern Shore Wildlife Refuge this spring,
I read about the "Great Monarch Butterfly Migration" that happens every autumn, 
so perhaps many have already departed on their Mexican vacations.

In early October, the Eastern Shore Wildlife Refuge hosts a wildlife migration festival
that gives people an opportunity to witness the autumn migration 
of songbirds, monarch butterflies, and other wildlife.
Here's the link for anyone planning a visit:

Tomorrow, we'll discover more delights along the Dismal Swamp Canal.

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